Schiacciata All'uva: Italy's Grape-Studded Focaccia

Every autumn in Tuscan wine country, wine grapes become ready for harvest. This season is very busy for this region of Italy, and many like to celebrate the harvest with a traditional delicacy called "schiacciata all'uva," or grape focaccia. 

Focaccia is a savory Italian bread that is typically used for sandwiches or a quick snack. But in this recipe, the savory base of the bread is made sweet with the addition of wine grapes. During baking, the tangy taste of the grapes mellows into a jam-like sweetness. As a result, this seasonal flatbread has the hearty, yeasty taste of focaccia but is ultimately a sweet treat.

It is common to find schiacciata all'uva in Italian bakeries during harvest season, and many families make it at home as well during the fall. These days, you don't have to be in Italy to enjoy this special sweet bread. With the right grapes, you can make it in your kitchen as well.

The history of schiacciata all'uva

Traditionally, this grape-studded flatbread is made to celebrate the wine grape harvest, which is why it is sometimes called the "winemakers' focaccia." It uses a black grape used to make chianti, called canaiolo. You can find it in Tuscan and Florentine bakeshops in the months of September or October, which fall in line with the grape harvest. 

In Italy, focaccia is a bread that is traditionally made during several religious holidays. Today, the recipe entertains many cheesy and crispy variations depending on where you are in the country. Different sweet and savory takes on this classic bread include ingredients like sardines or red onions, but schiacciata all'uva is defined by the grapes. "Schiacciata" is the Italian word for "crushed," which is a reference to how you prepare focaccia — you must flatten it with your hand into the baking pan. This term is used as a nickname for focaccia in Tuscany. 

How to make schiacciata all'uva

It is traditional to use canaiolo grapes and to leave the seeds in the fruits when you bake them into the bread, but you can also use other types of black grapes, seeded or seedless. If you are based in the United States, it may be easier to make this recipe with concord grapes, which are native to North America. While grapes are the star of this dish, you will also need rosemary, sugar, olive oil, and the ingredients for focaccia: flour, water, salt, and yeast. 

You will begin by making the dough — mix the yeast with water, add it to the flour with salt, and knead it into a supple dough. Cover and let rise for an hour and a half. Once it's ready, divide the dough into two pieces and roll them out. Lay one down on a baking sheet and amply stud with grapes, topping with olive oil and sugar. Then, lay the other piece of dough on top of the first layer, topping again with grapes, sugar, olive oil, and a little rosemary if you desire it. Let it rise for another 30 minutes and then bake for 45 minutes. Allow it to cool, and enjoy!

How schiacciata all'uva is served

Generally, focaccia is traditionally eaten as a snack or sliced in half to make sandwiches. Schiacciata all'uva bread can be served as breakfast, a mid-day snack, a dessert, or as a complement to a fuller meal. Because of the grapes, there is very little need to add anything to it. In Italy, during the fall, you could pick some of this bread up from a bakery and eat it as-is. 

If you're making schiacciata all'uva at home, it's completely up to you. Some people like to dust the top of the bread with powdered sugar and eat it as a sweet breakfast or dessert. Others prefer to add salt and rosemary to the topping in order to emphasize the savory flavors in the bread. Regardless of when or how you eat it, you'll realize there's a reason that this bread is an annual tradition in Italy — it's simply delicious.